When two artists come together something magic is bound to happen. When you marry the two with the added passion of cooking, sparks are sure to fly in the kitchen. Those sparks are the exact effect that Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos provide that keeps drawing loyal viewers to their Cooking Channel show Extra Virgin on Wednesday's at 6:30pm (PST). Teaching the audience authentic recipes that were passed down from their families while adding modern twists is one of the main ideas behind Extra Virgin but, it is not the only thing the show offers. It turns into a family affair when their adorable daughters get in on the act helping out, the dishes they serve up come out delicious by using traditional ingredients, and it shows that getting into the kitchen and cooking can be fun as well as sexy. We got a chance to chat it up with Gabriele and Debi to find out how they get all of the ideas it takes to have a show like Extra Virgin, what it's like in their home when the cameras stop rolling, and what we can expect from the rest of the season.
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OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): Where do you come up with the arsenal of recipes it takes to have a cooking show?
Debi Mazar: Basically we deal with it season to season. We have a blog called "Under the Tuscan Gun" and for the most part it has been a combination of family recipes, recipes that he and I have created together, and a lot of traditional Tuscan ones that we have our own spin on. As the seasons have progressed, we had to get more and more inventive. Gabriele has been in the kitchen experimenting and obviously when we go to Italy, we've been paying a lot more attention to our friends and the grandparents to pick up new spins on things because there are endless recipes. But for the most part, we have used our stock pile of traditional stuff.
Gabriele Corcos: The thing is that this project started off as playtime for Debi and me. We didn't start it knowing that we would need 300 or more recipes! So we started off with my core recipes and I called my grandma on the phone and got more stuff and eventually, I started developing them. So there is not much of pulling out of a magic hat when it comes to these recipes. We always go back to these traditional ingredients and basics that go into making Tuscan cuisine so fascinating and wonderful. It's not really about showcasing a big recipe, it's more about inviting people to get together and share the experience of cooking together in the kitchen. Bringing back the meaning the kitchen had when you used to spend time in your grandma's house with the smells, aromas, the music, and back ground noises. For me recipes are not about showing off, it's about loving people and feeding them.
Do your friends just line up to be guinea pigs to try out your creations?
Gabriele: Constantly! [Laughs]
Debi: Well they don't line up but they just know that we always have an open door and they're like, "Hey what are you guys doing? We can come and hang out with the girls!" Like, they make excuses to babysit because they know that they are going to get a fabulous meal.
It's cool that your daughters are involved in the show and it's amazing that you get them to eat what you eat, that's not always easy. Being that you have a musician and an actress in the family who both love to cook, are they leaning towards specific passions as of yet?
Gabriele: Well one of them has a wonderful palate. She's very critical but she doesn't like to help or cook, she could care less. The other one loves to chop, clean, set the table, and do the dishes.
Debi: Yeah Giulia loves to get a shallot, some herbs, a frying pan, and we always have to indulge her because she has such a love for the kitchen. Neither one has expressed any interest in becoming an actor which I have not pushed, and I hope to god that they are not actors, but with our children I find it very important to nurture whatever it is that they're into. When it comes to food, the most important thing is to instill the palate from a young age for at least trying food. From a young age when they don't want to try something, then we believe in bribery. [Laughs.] The most wonderful comment my daughter made was when she tried something and said, "I can't believe I've been missing out on this my whole life!" Meanwhile, she was only five years old.
What I think people love most about Extra Virgin is that you two are so flirty with each other. Is cooking sort of like foreplay to you guys?
Debi: Oh for sure! First of all, how many girls have a guy that can cook? I mean, I'm used to it but I never take it for granted. It's sexy to watch a man chop and see his muscles while he's picking up a frying pan and flipping the food around. It is foreplay in a sense but it doesn't always lead to sex.
Gabriele: I wish!
Debi: Sometimes after cooking you get tired, you know? For sure it's the sexiest thing to be in the kitchen together. It's the heart of the home and I think even for couples that have been married for a gazillion years instead of going out for dinner just go, ok, let's try something new and get in the kitchen and try to be sexy together. Ultimately they'll control the amount of sugar, the salt, the carbs, their diet, and their health at that time. I think that is something that people can be proud of. The rewards will show by losing weight, you'll be happier, you'll learn to cook, and you'll be the toast of the town when your friends come over and see that you know how to cook and throw the best parties! There is really no downside except the dishes!
OK so give us the run down on the rest of the season of Extra Virgin.
Debi: This season we moved from Los Angeles to New York because we felt like it was time to do something new after living in L.A. for ten years together. So we picked the family up to try a new adventure out and to show Gabriele how special my city is. We have a new dog, we have new recipes, we show you some traditional historical food, and we show you how a family morphs in the face of change.
Follow Debi on Twitter @DebiMazar and Gabriele @TheTuscanGun and find out more about what they're up to on www.UnderTheTuscanGun.com. Watch Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel Wednesday's at 6:30 (PST) and get tasty recipes to try out in your own kitchen on the Cooking Chanel website. Also be on the lookout in spring 2014 for their cook book that will be published by Clarkson Potter!